“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”
Margaret Thatcher’s words will echo throughout all of time as the pinnacle of womanly might and ability, and are frequently cited as evidence of our need to send a woman to the Oval Office. There is, however, a flaw in this stream of argument that flows from both left and right alike: We don’t actually need a female president.
Before you exit out of this page and write me off as a foregone member of the patriarchy, hear me out; this might actually be a conversation worth having, especially since the #womancard is making a comeback in this election cycle.
Yes, a female president would be a huge step for both this country and women worldwide if she assumed the highest office in the land. Yes, there is a mutual benefit for men and women alike if the latter takes power after so many men have held the office before her (let’s face it, women are just more organized than men are). But do we need such a change? Is our country hanging in the balance over the lack of estrogen in the Oval Office? I’d dare to say that it is not.
We are about to enter a general election campaign against the first woman to ever be nominated at the top of a major-party ticket. This fact alone makes her a formidable opponent. Factor in her name and previously-held positions, and we’ve got quite the fight on our hands. Too many seem to be falling for this spell of the necessity of a female president and are eager to counter this possibility by tossing a woman onto the GOP ticket as well. We foresee the excitement that proclaiming “the first female president” will bring; and understandably, we continue to place women in the spotlight and give them central roles in campaigns and the like. We think of the little girls who are growing up without the example of a female president to guide them to the goalpost of self-worth and fear for what their future may contain if such a barrier remains unbroken.
But is the situation truly that desperate? Are America’s young women sitting on their bedroom floors, surrounded by Barbie dolls, and wondering what they’ll be able to accomplish since we haven’t yet had a female president? This is eerily akin to the feminist argument that women are somehow being held back by the existence of males and that all efforts must be made to propel women into positions of power for the sake of “diversity.”
We’ve set up this pedestal upon which we just can’t wait to set the first female president and prepare to idolize her for the rest of time. And while she certainly will be acclaimed and treasured and admired, we must be careful not to make in her the best and only example for achievement of a young woman’s dream.
Women currently lead companies such as Pepsi, General Motors, Lockheed Martin, and Yahoo. NASA’s latest class of astronauts is made up of 50% female students. Women are now more likely to have a college degree than men are. American women have won Olympic gold medals in multiple sports. Millions of women across the country perform the most difficult yet one of the most important roles one could ever fill: Mom.
“Let’s reserve the presidency for the woman who earns the trust and support of the American people…”
Be careful not to reduce the presidency down to a box we can check in the book of female achievements. Little girls have so, so many role models in place; if you’re looking for a solid role model for your sister, daughter, or anyone else, you won’t have to look very far. Let’s reserve the presidency for the woman who earns the trust and support of the American people and elect her whenever they see fit, whether it be this year or in the next generation. Don’t use a woman’s election to fill some sort of imaginary obligation to rectify the years of women being treated as inferior. We’ve more than made up for that time. I would love to see more women holding higher office and believe that a female president would certainly make a statement to the world about the state of gender relations (is this really a thing?) in America, but we owe nothing to the world as far as proving our stance.
No other nation in the world affords women the opportunities and advantages they receive in the United States. You are privileged if you are born female in the United States. Our lack of a female president thus far does nothing to diminish the accomplishments that American women continue to make on a daily basis. Let’s propel women who possess the qualifications to hold higher and maybe even the highest office, but let’s do it out of merit and not out of desperation. Let’s point young girls to the women who have already shattered the glass ceiling and encourage them to reach even higher. A female president would make a statement, but America’s women have already spoken loud and clear and require no additional achievements to unlock the highest level of respect.